Guido Deiro |
Marriage to Julia Tatro
Downtown Spokane, ca. 1900s
Guido may have met his first wife at a theater in downtown Spokane.
Guido Deiro's first wife was Julia Tatro, a teenage pianist of Spokane, Washington. It is not known how they first met. Guido's brother, Pietro, immigrated from Italy to Cle Elum, Washington in 1907 (See end note 1.) and Guido followed him to the United States a year later. However Spokane lies 200 miles west from Cle Elum, a considerable distance in those days.
It is unlikely that Guido met Julia until some years after he began performing in the United States. Both Deiro brothers began their American careers in Seattle, Washington, a city located east of Cle Elum, some 280 miles from Spokane. Perhaps Guido met Julia in Spokane after he joined the vaudeville circuit, as his travels brought him to Spokane several times.
Professor Gregory F. Romanoff of Spokane wrote, "I saw Guido Deiro for the first time in 1910 at the Orpheum Theater in Spokane, Washington. He was playing the accordion and a guitar player named Porcini played with him. They called themselves The Milano Duo. Their opening number was The Sharpshooters March and Guido Deiro played a solo, Poet and Peasant Overture. They played Ciribiribin and La Spagnola as their finale numbers. Both Guido Deiro and Porcini were dressed in white suits and straw hats. In the early fall of 1912 I saw Guido Deiro doing a single and he was billed as The American Premier of the Piano Accordion. I saw him again in 1913 at the Orpheum Theater and while here he married Julia Tatro, a pianist of Spokane." (See end note 2.)
Guido Deiro's marriage with Julia Tatro was apparently not his idea. The two must have had a passionate romance during one of Guido's business trips to Spokane, and, probably to save face (as Julia may have been a simple small-town girl), she threatened to charge him with statutory rape unless he agreed to marry her. Guido agreed to her terms and married her probably in 1913.
After the wedding ceremony he understandably returned to his vaudeville career traveling throughout the United States and Canada while she remained in Spokane. Apparently she was not satisfied with his support payments; on February 25, 1914, Julia had the police arrest Guido on the stage of Chicago's Palace Theater under a fugitive warrant issued by Spokane authorities seeking financial support. After posting $2,500 bail, Deiro left town for Erie, Pennsylvania, where he had a booking.
It is not known whether Tatro's claim of obligation had merit. An earlier complaint Tatro had filed in San Francisco was dismissed because of lack of evidence. (See end note 3.)
Deiro successfully divorced his wife probably in the summer of 1914. An undated newspaper clipping in the Guido Deiro Archive stated, "DEIRO DIVORCED. Deiro, the accordionist, was notified this week his divorce case, pending for several months in Chicago, had been satisfactorily disposed of. Deiro was granted absolute freedom on three counts, two of which were desertion and default. His wife, Julia Tatro, is a western girl." -- Deiro Scrapbook No. 1, page 35.
Another newspaper clipping in the archive stated more poetically:DIERO [sic] SMILES. There's a Reason -- Something Pleasant Happened to Him.-- Deiro Scrapbook No. 1, page 35. (See end note 4.)
You who have seen Diero [sic] smile while playing the soulful melodies on his accordion at Poli's theater are now to learn how one of those fascinating smiles of his cost him $4,000. Once upon a time he beamed that radiance on a bewitching damsel of the far west. That captivating smile did it. They were married -- long, long ago. End of Act I.
Act II -- The plot thickens, storms arise. She plays the piano, but not in harmony. Thep [sic] separate. The smile has lost its use for domestic purposes. It is turned on only in emergency cases on the stage when he is pleasing the people with his music. Curtain.
Act III -- Lapse of several months. Smile returns this week at Poli's with the news that he has been granted an absolute divorce in a Chicago court. Cost $4,000. Never again. Smile is educated, and restricted to professional purposes only.
Diero, [sic] who is an Italian, was asked if he would be called upon to go to war if Italy takes sides in the European conflict. "Why speak of war when I have just come through a divorce case," he replied.
End note 1: When he immigrated to the United States, why did Pietro Deiro settle in Cle Elum, Washington, and not a major city like New York or Boston?
Two reasons come to mind:
A. Pietro had family which lived in Cle Elum. His Uncle Pietro Deiro immigrated to the United States from Italy in 1890 and he settled in Cle Elum, where he worked as a coal miner. Uncle Pietro's wife Mariana came with their two children in 1893. Pietro naturally preferred to stay with his own relatives. He arrived at Ellis Island in the Port of New York on September 21, 1907, on the steamship S.S. La Savoie sailing from Havre, France. The immigration record can be seen at Ellis Island Records.Guido's son, Count Guido Roberto, wrote, "Contrary to any thing heard so far, Pietro never played accordion professionally in Europe. Guido never lived in Cle Elum...I have been there and searched the vital statistics and met my cousins...several including another 'Guido Deiro,' who passed away at 91 (his son Tom and I are cousins and good friends, in fact it was he who put Peter Muir on to me). I Remember my father visiting Cle Elum, but always immigrating to and playing accordion in Seattle. It was father who encouraged Pietro to become a professional musician -- teaching him to read music and play the piano keyboard instrument." Letter to the webmaster dated February 16, 2002.
B. Pietro came to work in the coal mines, as he had worked as a miner in Europe. Cle Elum, meaning "swift water" in the Kittitas Indian tongue, originated as a gold claim in 1883. Three years later coal was discovered and Cle Elum gained a sawmill, a school and a stop on the Northern Pacific Railroad. Coal Mining in Cle Elum ended in 1963.
End note 2: Professor Gregory F. Romanoff, from a letter published in Accordion News magazine in 1935
End note 3: "An Earlier Complaint," an article published in Variety magazine of February 25, 1914
End note 4: The latter of these two articles definitely appeared after July 28, 1914, when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, and before May 23, 1915, when Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary.